28 Aug Rediscovering Heaven at the Lord’s Table
It was a decade in the making… and so it has been a joy to hear from readers about my newest book, Remembrance, Communion, and Hope: Rediscovering the Gospel at the Lord’s Table. I’ve received quite a few comments from readers who are surprised — even shocked — at the multifaceted character of the Lord’s Table for helping congregations move more deeply into the wide breadth of the gospel. If you’ve had a chance to read it, consider joining the discussion of the book with a Goodreads or an Amazon review to share your thoughts more broadly.
I’ve also been privileged to join in some broader conversations related to the book. One of those was through a Christianity Today article back in February which focused upon an argument that I made in my chapter on hope. It doesn’t get at the “thesis” of my book, but it’s a section that caught the editor’s eye. It generated quite a bit of discussion (and some very civil “push-back” here from the scholar, Richard Middleton, who responded to the article).
Here is the Christianity Today article:
“The New View of Heaven is Too Small”
On the one hand, in the article, I heartily agree with the “counter-narrative” that N.T. Wright and Richard Middleton give to common accounts of the “rapture.” For truly, “Christian hope is not for the annihilation of the earth, but the restoration of all creation to service of the Lord.” Yet, I argue that “we impoverish our hope for heaven when we turn it into an expression of our current activist emphasis upon ‘kingdom work.’” In fact, we can recover a more Christ-centered and glorious view of heaven through rediscovering the gift of the Lord’s Table. “In the Old and New Testaments, the Lord speaks of his people as his spouse, and Revelation speaks of the coming ‘wedding feast of the Lamb.’ This is not just an abstraction, either now or in the age to come. As we celebrate the Supper now, we celebrate a foretaste of a great feast that includes table fellowship with peoples of all nations and cultures and ethnicities. We’re brought together as a people who praise and delight in our life-giving spouse and lover, Jesus Christ.”
The article led to even more dialogue with three friends on one of my favorite theology podcasts: Mere Fidelity. Taking the Christianity Today article as a starting point and moving into other parts of the book, I had an engaging conversation with Matthew Lee Anderson, Derek Rishmawy, and Andrew Wilson on this episode:
I’m so grateful for these conversations, and I’m looking forward to more ongoing discussions with readers! In the meantime, I’m well into my next book project which explores how congregations can recover genuine resurrection hope in a day in which dying has become a medical experience. I continue to be on chemotherapy, but my cancer numbers are low right now, so I’m grateful for each breath, giving thanks to the good Creator!